One of our own needs help…

A very talented friend of mine, Greg Dubuque, who’s been in the business for many years and is a truly gifted artist is in need of help fighting MS and his daughter’s illness as well. Friends of his have set up a fund on
Please, give if you can.

From the site:
As some of you are already aware, early in 2014, after years of fighting and ignoring a range of symptoms he attributed to fatigue and age, Greg was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, a form of MS with no remission stage and a steady worsening of neurological functions. This would have been a hard blow for anyone, but as an artist and a single father of two wonderful kids, it was all the more devastating. His doctors are working him toward a possible treatment plan, but it will be a long and expensive road.

If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Greg’s young daughter was recently diagnosed with Ventricular Tachycardia this past September after a frightening trip to the ER. She has since undergone a cardiac ablation procedure, followed by surgery for an implanted defibrillator.

MS is the type of illness that is an artist’s worst nightmare, but even though Greg’s ability to provide for his kids has been crippled by this physically impairing disease, he has the strength, faith, and the belief in himself to fight and overcome it. Meanwhile, the current financial, emotional, and physical strain has taken its toll as medical bills have grown rapidly, so this fundraiser page was created with the hopes of easing some of the immediate financial burden from both his daughter’s medical expenses, as well as the cost of Greg’s future treatment options so he can continue to be the best dad for his kids.

Any amount, no matter how small, that you would like to contribute will go directly to Greg and his kids to help with medical bills, groceries, and basic living expenses.

AI Spotlight: Witches Night Out and The Gift of Winter

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AI-spotlight logo 200x100Today we’re going a bit old school as our AI Spotlight shines on some old films that have been restored and brought back to life by my good friend Jimmy Cross, who breathed new life into two of his favorite films from childhood. Interestingly enough the first film “The Gift of Winter” marks SNL Alumni Dan Aykroyd and Gild Radner’s first professional acting gig.
AI: Well let’s start off by having you introduce yourself.
Jimmy: Hi, my name is Jimmy Cross and my partner is the very talented Jonathan Rogers.
AI: So lets talk a little about these two pieces. They truly mark a bit of animation history. Can you tell us a bit of what each film is about?
Jimmy: The first film is called “The Gift of Winter” starring SNL alum Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd  and it was made by my partner Jonathan Rogers in 1974. Gift of Winter begins in a place called Anytown and people rise up in protest to stage an exhausting march through sub zero wilderness to confront the Ministry of Winter himself to demand change. Along the way they all learn the true meaning of winter and the gift of winter is born.
Witch’s Night Out is the a continuation of the first film starring Gilda Radner as the Witch and it was made back in 1978.  It’s a spooky surprise when a witch’s magic wand falls into the wrong hands in this nostalgic Halloween special! A treat for the whole family, this magical animated adventure returns to you just in time to celebrate this spooktacular season!When a witch hears of a party being held at her haunted mansion, she decides to bring on the fun! Showing off her magical tricks by turning the kids into whatever they want to be for Halloween. However, when her wand disappears the town is turned upside down!
AI: What led you to make it?
Jimmy: I can’t take credit for making these two wonderful cartoons. But it all started back in 1978 when I was 7 years old. I fell in love with the shows and was blessed to one day become partners with the creator.
AI: Who worked on the film?
Jimmy: Both shows were made by John Leach (now known as Joanthan Rogers) and Jean Rankin of Leach/Rankin Productions back in the 70’s. Both films were independent and I guess in a way they still are.
AI: What technology was used in it’s creation?
Jimmy: Traditional animation but with a twist. Both cartoons were animated straight on cels and straight ahead animation.
AI: Wait, wait, animated directly on cells? That’s insane!
Jimmy: Crazy but true. Also no key frames just free straight ahead animation and drawn directly onto the acetate. Witch’s Night Out was filmed on 35mm film and Gift was 16mm.
AI:  How was it funded?
Jimmy: The CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company)  funded The Gift of Winter and then NBC funded the Witches Night Out. The restoration was independently funded through Semaj Entertainment.
AI: What is the end result for the film?
Jimmy: Well, both films are now for the first time on DVD and digital distribution in North America. They have both been fully restored and we are now looking to do new projects using our casts in both films. Together we have formed Cross/Rogers and are very excited on what the future holds for these stories and where we will take them together. It is truly a wonderful humbling story and a dream come true.
AI: Thanks Jimmy for sharing these truly unique little blasts from the pas. If you’d like to learn more about either of these films there are sites set up for both.

AI Spotlight: Mike and Wayne

Today’s Spotlight comes to us from Florida in the form of a film called Mike and Wayne  about two guys who attempt to rob a liquor store to no avail. It’s well animated, well designed and it’s choice of palette colors is particularly refreshing.

Mike&Wayne_01AI: So let’s start out by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you’ve come from to get you to this make this film.
Esteban: Hey! My name is Esteban Valdez, I’m the Founder of Echo Bridge Pictures and we’re an animation production company based in St Petersburg, Fla. and since our start we’ve worked on some incredibly high profile projects and respected names in the business like FOX, FXX, CBBeeies, UMG and Edelman. We’re focused on 2D production for music videos, commercials, corporate and educational videos, short and feature films, documentaries and episodic shows for television and the web.
I started back in 2000 working at small shops in and around Boston, MA. In late 2010 I planted some roots in St Pete and founded the studio. Since then Echo Bridge has grown to be an artist driven studio where we work pretty damn hard everyday to do what many other people thought was only possible in LA and NYC.


AI: Some good credits! So tell us what “Mike and Wayne” is about and who are these little blue guys?
Esteban: It’s about these two dumbasses named Mike & Wayne. They’re the titular characters of our new short film who are not the sharpest knives in the proverbial drawer. Their mission is simple: get rich quick by robbin’ and stealin’. Their target: the local liquor store. What our fearless (anti)heroes don’t know is that the Cornah Store has the best defenses imagination can provide. Follow Mike & Wayne as they strive to make their dreams come true and are met with spectacular failure. All for your enjoyment.


AI: Sounds like an interesting concept. I particularly liked the style and your choice of color. The backgrounds are beautiful too!
 Thanks! Well, a lot of the inspiration came from indie comics and zines and when it came to color I felt it only best to keep with that feel. What was challenging about it too was that it’s both easy to see mistakes cause there’s no place to hide those mishaps and the work can also disappear if the values aren’t probably separated.  And with everything packed with detail as it is it pushed us artistically.

Maybe we’re just artistic masochists because we’re always looking to do something we haven’t done and that challenges us.  We don’t do easy around these parts.

AI: So how did the idea for the film come about?
Esteban: The idea had been swimming around in my head/sketchbook for a few years, mostly inspired by the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons and the styling of Daniel Clowes and Robert Crumb. To make something simple and in your face without having to be so overly developed and processed… I like to think of Mike & Wayne as a punk rock tune. Edgy, fast paced, no bullshit, and raw. And much like punk, it wasn’t about satisfying others ­ it’s about making something that we liked, that made us laugh. Art’s so subjective and if you’re trying to please every demographic you’re going to end up with something you don’t enjoy looking at or love doing.


AI: Who worked on the film?
Esteban: I wrote the original premise and provided art and animation direction, however for this project we really took a different approach than we normally do on client work. We got everyone together and pitched ideas around for scenarios. The ideas that made us laugh the most is what made it into the film so all in all there’s a little bit of each of us throughout the film. When it came to the audio portion that was done mostly by my good friend and former band mate, Mark Mniece. He and I had some serious back and forth trying to get things just right. Then Mark did what he did best and mixed us his best work on that track.

AI: What technology was used in it’s creation?
Esteban: We used Storyboard Pro 4 for storyboards and animatics, Flash CS5 for preproduction and production, Premiere CS5 for post, Reason and ProTools for audio production using a Fender Highway One Bass, Gibson SG Guitar through an Apogee Ensemble and Korg Keyboard for additional instruments. All our planning, coordinating, scheduling, tracking and file management was done through Basecamp and all things finance wise was handled via Quickbooks by myself and our accountant.

AI: How was it funded?
Esteban: The film was financed by the studio (Echo Bridge). It was expensive, but the end result is something we’re all really happy with.

AI: What is the end result for the film as in will you put it in festivals or was it just a personal piece you did for fun?
Esteban: The short film has been submitted to roughly 20 festivals worldwide and we’re really hoping it does well. In the meantime the next 5 episodes are already in pre­production, and we’ve recently signed on with the Channel Frederator Network to produce a 12 episode season of Mike & Wayne. A couple of broadcast networks have also shown high interest in Mike & Wayne, but we feel that the nature of the project is best suited for the net.
We’re really working hard to make sure that each cartoon is constantly raising the bar, getting crazier and out ­there. So far, the reviews we’ve been getting from people we’ve shown this too has been nothing short of awesome and we’re really pumped to be producing something of our own.
Stay tuned!